Malabar Spinach? Anyone have experience?

lazy_gardensApril 14, 2010

My leafy greens are starting to bolt, so I ordered some Malabar spinach seeds.

Anhyone have any tips, tricks, or horror stories?

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twodogsaz

If it is the spinach they also call New Zealand spinach, I tried it a few years ago.It does grow well in the heat but tastes nothing like the spinach we're used to.We didn't care for it at all and after trying it a couple of times quit watering it and let it go.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 11:23AM
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lazy_gardens

Malabar spinach is not the same as "New Zealand" spinach.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 2:32PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

towdogs,
Malabar climbs.

No , I haven't tried it. Do you know if the berries are edible?

I have tried New zealand. It spreads out low to the ground. Does take the heat here well, but as stated, a mild flavor.

We actually liked it.

JoJo

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 10:43AM
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lazy_gardens

The berries are mostly all seed ... but they have an intense pink/purple pigment. I think you could color lemonade with them. They are uses in Asia to color candies and puddings.

I don't know what they taste like.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2010 at 7:22PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Hiya Lazy and all,

I just ordered seeds for Malabar spinach as well, so let's compare stories (horror or otherwise, LOL) and recipes (pleazzze!). I'm excited about them. I love my Swiss chard all winter long and crave a decent substitute for summer. Maybe this is it? If nothing else, it's very ornamental.

Take care and post updates.
Grant

Here is a link that might be useful: Malabar spinach from rareseeds.com

    Bookmark   April 27, 2010 at 7:42PM
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tracydr(9b)

Let me know how you like it. If you have a start or an extra seedling I'd love to take it off your hands!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 1:31AM
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lazy_gardens

I have two sprouts!

I heard they are slow to sprout, so I soaked the seeds and did the damp paper towel routine, using my computer case as the source of heat.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 2:46PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Congrats on the sprouts and thanks for the tips. My seed from rareseeds.com arrive last night (among other goodies) so I'll be soaking and planting them this weekend.

Take care and post updates all,
Grant

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:58PM
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lazy_gardens

Grant - They have an enthusiastic tap root. If you start them in a pot, is needs to be a deep one.

I'm setting mine out tomorrow, and starting a few more as backup.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 10:23PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Caaaaaaaaaan do, I have just the pot for them. Thanks!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 12:29PM
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lazy_gardens

DANG! I had two thriving in my compost heap, and the ants seem to have damaged the roots and killed the plants.

The leaves are heavier than real spinach - much like chard - but mild and green and crunchy. adequate for salads and sammiches.

Starting a new batch today.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2010 at 1:35PM
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gemfire(z9/10 AZ)

I got one from the swap but couldn't decide where I should plant it. Finally got it in the ground with trellis for it to climb. Its slow getting going but so far the heat hasn't bothered it any. There's lot of pics on the web of it and it looks to be a nice vine.

Pam

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 7:38PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

I picked up some of the green malabar spinach seeds at a Chinese grocer in W. Palm. (Lucky Market?) They were slow to start in the late winter, but by summer they were growing quickly. Seem to LOVE the heat.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 11:43PM
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lazy_gardens

Mine have scrambled into an orange tree and are hard to see. I may harvest some for a stir fry and see what they are like.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 3:39PM
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kccav(z9 AZ)

Red Malabar's are perfect to plant here in Phoenix in Spring/Summer. I've been growing them for a couple years. They can take and thrive in full summer sun with good watering. They die in winter. Let the purple seed sacs dry out and save. Then plant again for the next year. I got my seeds from Tradewindsfruit website. To me, the leaves are delicious. I eat them as I water them. Make sure to let them grow on a lattice or string. They grow to about five foot high or longer.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 8:50PM
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kccav(z9 AZ)

Oh sorry, I forgot to say. From my experience it's best to plant directly in the ground. I have some in a planter pot but do not flourish like they do in the ground. Best to plant in spring as they die in winter.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2010 at 9:17PM
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another_buffalo(6)

I rooted some cuttings from the Hmong growers at the farmers market a couple of years ago. They did not grow fast enough to use.

This year a friend had the plant growing all over her edible yard and pulled a couple of rooted sections for me. I put them in planters in the greenhouse that was being built. It was 114 outside in the shade and 117 in the greenhouse with two screen doors open and summer shade from oak trees. The Malabar Spinach LOVED the heat and grew like wild. It has been flowering like crazy.

I've used it in stir fries, omlets, salads, etc. By nipping off the growing tips, it shoots off new growth and flowers at each remaining leaf node. The flowers are both tastie and beautiful, really adding beauty to the dish. I'm really going to go crazy with outside plantings next year.

The plants did not like 40 degree temps in my friends yard and are all but gone. Tonight's freeze will finish them off. But in the greenhouse, they are still growing and blooming like wild. I'm loving it.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 10:37PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

As Another Buffalo has said, the key is to keep cutting off the top several inches of the vines. As they grow, the vines get more and more fibrous, so it is the tender tips you want. Also I have noticed the leaves tend to get smaller and smaller the longer the vine becomes.

In my container garden in FL, the red malabar spinach reseeded itself with a vengeance, even after I took a lot of seed for myself.

Looking forward to trying this in my new place in SoCal. Wonder how it will survive the winter.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2011 at 3:31AM
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sandysgardens

What's the best way to germinate Malabar seeds? A friend has asked me to start some for him and his wife, but in the past I've not had any luck.

Thanks,
Sandy

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 7:20AM
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lazy_gardens

Sandy - wrap in a damp paper towel, put towel in plastic bag and put in a warm spot. I put mine on top of my computer case.

When a root starts to peep out, plant it in a DEEP pot. they have a really LONG seedling tap root, compared to most plants.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 8:50AM
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sandysgardens

Lazygardens, thanks for the advise! I went and got them wrapped in a damp paper towel and in a large ziplock. I have my pepper seeds sown and on the heat mat, so I put the ziplock in a plastic tray w/lid on the heat mat too. I just checked the temp inside the tray and the air temp is approx 81.

When do you plant them in Arizona? We have a house in Apache Junction that later down the road we will retire too, but for now my sister in-law lives at the house. I'd like to start planning out some garden areas for the house and check out what grows and when to plant......

Thanks again,
Sandy

    Bookmark   March 4, 2012 at 10:29AM
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lazy_gardens

When the nights are reliably warm - above 50 at least. That puts it in mid-april.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:41PM
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tracydr(9b)

I just ordered some seed. Do you think they prefer full sun here in AZ or some shade? I have a lot of places with some shade with good trellising potential.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 8:14AM
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lazy_gardens

Light shade, morning sun. They can't handle FULL Arizona sun

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:35PM
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oceanlyons

I have wanted to grow malabar spinach to use in some callaloo soup. I found some seeds at an asian market, but have yet to try them.

http://www.caribbeanseeds.com/

http://searchdominica.com/culinary/how-to-make-callaloo

So yummy!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 12:04PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Has anyone looked up the nutrition content on this plant? I'm assuming regular spinach doesn't do so well in Phx...

Okay, I had to look it up and see - not bad.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nutritional data

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 9:30PM
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plstqd(9)

Regular spinach does just fine in a fall/winter/spring garden. It won't handle the summer here, though.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 12:48AM
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tracydr(9b)

So, wondering which spinach substitute everyone prefers? I have seeds for both the New Zealand and Malabar spinach. Also trying sea foam chard and pink lipstick chard, as I've had chard make it through the summer here, in the shade. Thought I'd try some different varieties of chard, see if they might be a little less "earthy" tasting. We like chard, but it does seem to get a little strong tasting during the summer time.
I also have a wonder kale plant that started last spring, made it though the summer and is still going strong! It nearly died, was just a little stump but is coming back strong, now that I realized it was still alive and put some water to it. I think kale is actually my favorite green but it gets really bitter during the summer.
I'm also trying green amaranth this summer. The red was a little strong but I heard the green variety tastes better.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Thanks, Tracydr, I was going to ask about Kale. I wonder how it would do planted in fall? Have you tried Kale chips yet?

I will have a narrow but very long raised bed area along the east side of my property that I'm thinking of doing a bit of a chicken wire-hoop thingy over (the bunnies appear to be quite prolific - I might have to raise some lettuce or something just for them - distractions, lol) for raising veggies. I did very little vegetable gardening last time I lived there, but I'm hoping to change that this time around. I've had it with grocery store "vegetables".

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 8:34AM
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azbookworm

I am confused. Malabar spinach can take the heat but not the sun?

I would need to cover them in the afternoon? I was going to buy some seeds but now I am scratching my head.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:32AM
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plstqd(9)

Pagancat, if you're interested in planting vegetables, this planting calendar is an invaluable tool for knowing what to plant when. It's not entirely comprehensive, but it's a very good basic guideline that will set you off on the right foot. Vegetable gardening here is totally backwards from most places, but there is a huge range of veggies that do very well here if planted at the right times. Kale can be planted starting in the late summer and throughout the winter for a wonderful fall through spring crop.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:25AM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Thanks for that, plstqd - that's exactly what I've been looking for.

Sometimes ya just gotta spell it out for me, lol....

    Bookmark   March 19, 2012 at 9:51PM
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tracydr(9b)

Anybody have preference on New Zealand spinach over Malabar or amaranth? I'm planting all three this summer.
I'd like to try some different greens, when we're feeling green deprived. At least I can make a salad or stir fry, or soup with them!
Last year, I was s desperate, I was making green salads out of basil and tomatoes! Using lettuce leaf basil as lettuce!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 8:50PM
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eibren(z6PA)

Does Malabar spinach taste at all like New Zealand spinach?

I made the mistake of eating some New Zealand spinach raw when DH first planted it. Apparently it is not fully edible raw, and I developed a violent dislike of it. The flavor was not at all like spinach to me, and trying it raw initially made me notice the flavor I disliked even when I later tried to cook it.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:37AM
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